The European throne finally has a king cemented on it, the revamped Azzurri defeated the Three Lions in their backyard to lift the prestigious piece of silverware on Sunday. England’s chronicle had a disastrous ending with Southgate’s army bowing out on penalties against an authoritative Italian outfit.
Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up & take a pen when the stakes were high. They deserve support & backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night. If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an @England fan and we don’t want you. pic.twitter.com/PgskPAXgxV
— Harry Kane (@HKane) July 12, 2021
While questions poured on Southgate’s penalty tactics, the Three Lions’ fairytale run also proved why they could be the real challengers for the World Cup crown. Southgate came under the scanner for his questionable line-ups but all of them turned out to be quite wonderful. Sancho’s jail time, Rashford’s journey from starter to benchwarmer, and a defensive mindset are why Southgate faced a lot of heat. But still, with the 2022 World Cup just a year away, the depleted English outfit will be hungry for silverware. FootTheBall reviews what could be England’s probable line-up at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
GOALKEEPER- DEAN HENDERSON
England and Pickford conceded only two goals throughout the European jamboree. A mouth-watering free-kick by Mikel Daamsgaard and the outstanding finish by Leonardo Bonucci. Everton’s shot-stopper played an excellent role in the Three Lions’ fairytale, almost earning silverware after saving Jorginho Spot-kick. But with Qatar knocking on Southgate’s door, he might be looking to explore other options. The number.1 at Old Trafford, Dean Henderson could soon be seen donning the number.1 kit for his national outfit as well.
I worked so hard to be in this position. I’m Devastated to have to withdraw through injury!! I want to wish my team mates all the best for the up and coming games. BRING IT HOME 🏴 👊🏻 pic.twitter.com/TumKabu2Uw
— Dean Henderson (@deanhenderson) June 15, 2021
Henderson displaced a drained David De Gea at the Red Devils and could be Pickford’s perfect substitute. The 24-year-old with his extended hands and vicious instincts rarely lets an attacker thunder a goal into his frame. In his 13 Premier League appearances for United, Henderson managed to claim 4 clean sheets while making 40 brilliant saves. A whopping stat, Henderson could be the probable man in England’s line-up between the post as England’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup starts.
RIGHT-BACK- TRENT-ALEXANDER ARNOLD
The perfect answer to Southgate’s right-back conundrum, Trent Alexander Arnold earned himself a place in England’s eleven after a sublime season at Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Unfortunately, Alexander Arnold fell out of Southgate’s favourites list. But a media storm in England turned Trent’s fortune on its head as he forced his way back into the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 roadmap. But once again, Trent’s luck timed out as the right-back picked up an injury on the eve of the tournament ruling him out of Southgate’s battalion.
Absolutely gutted. pic.twitter.com/LrO6WLV8fD
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) June 4, 2021
But after Trent returns, he could easily find him starting for the Three Lions. Although Kyle Walker’s had an exceptional Euro 2020, Trent Alexander Arnold’s attacking and defensive capabilities puts him a step ahead of the Manchester City right-back. Constantly labouring up and down, Trent exploits the open spaces in front of him and delivers inch-perfect crosses to his forwards. 56 tackles, 21 blocked shots, 49 interceptions, and 43 clearances explain why the Liverpool defender solves Gareth Southgate’s headaches.
CENTRE-BACK – HARRY MAGUIRE
The colossal centre-back donning and commanding the Three Lions’ back-line, Harry Maguire is Gareth Southgate’s biggest blessing. Maguire entered the Theatre with an exorbitant price tag but the 28-year-old has completely lived up to the expectations harmonized by his managers. The 6’4 centre-back is an aerial beast and winning a header against Maguire is nothing short of impossible.
Whenever the Three Lions were questioned by their rival strikers, Maguire looked prepared with all the answers. The starter of England’s attacks, Maguire’s precision while playing the ball out of the back is undefeatable. Harry Maguire could surely captain the Three Lions’ roster and his fitness will be pivotal keeping in mind England’s 2022 World Cup line-up. The solution to Southgate’s headaches, Maguire is a rock defending England’s pride.
CENTRE-BACK – JOHN STONES
Manchester City’s centre-back John Stones could be deemed as the silent protagonist in the Three Lions’ fairytale. While Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, and Raheem Sterling were all ruling the centre-stage, Stones was silently shutting down the opposition’s charges’ without being noticed.
While Shaw and Walker darted up-field to hurt defences, Stones along with his Manchester rival, Maguire bestowed upon himself England’s defensive responsibilities. Stones’ robustness and the propensity to destroy rival’s attacking dreams explains why the City centre-back is quintessential for England’s silverware aspirations.
LEFT-BACK – LUKE SHAW
Considerably the biggest headline from England’s Euro 2020 campaign, Luke Shaw silenced his haters on the colossal European platform. A glittering Premier League season saw Luke Shaw starting for the Three Lions from Day 1. But since his arrival in Southgate’s roster, the Red Devil left-back rarely faltered, constantly troubling European giants like Germany and Italy. In the Round-of-16 brawl against Die Mannschaft, Luke Shaw established his name in England’s history books with a sparkling outing at Wembley.
Dashingly defending his fortress, Shaw loves to scamper ahead looking for the perfect opportunities to assist the likes of Kane and Sterling. An attractive volley during the ultimate showdown at Wembley by Shaw stamped the Three Lions’ authority within 2 minutes of kick-off. Solving England’s jigsaw at the World Cup, Luke Shaw could easily bolster his national squad’s World Cup ambitions.
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER- JACK GREALISH
The word Fan-favourite will be synonymous with Jack Grealish’s Euro 2020 campaign. Aston Villa’s twinkling winger, Grealish was expected to be Southgate’s trump card in the Euros. The fact that Manchester City was prepared to splash 100 million pounds on Grealish, spoke volumes about Grealish’s talents. Constantly steaming ahead with the ball, he’s not a man with flamboyance and trickery but a character full of lazy elegance. The Claret attracts fouls from the defenders and rarely loses possession of the ball.
Although Southgate utilised Grealish as a substitute, his tremendous impact this summer might put Grealish in Southgate’s starting eleven. The presence of Declan Rice and Kalvin-Phillips in the Three Lions’ midfield does solidify their defensive abilities but England lacks a bit of creativity going upfront. Sterling and Kane looked isolated in the final as England fielded with 7 defensive mindset players putting Southgate under the scanner. With the Euros being seen as the World Cup dress rehearsals’ the Three Lions could play in Qatar with more attacking freedom.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER- DECLAN RICE
The unsung hero of the Three Lions’ silver-medal winning campaign, West Ham United’s captain Declan Rice did a formidable assignment for his national squad. He provides the form of commitment to his squads that is largely ignored when evaluating a player’s influence. Rice’s exceptional display in the Euros came on the back of solid placement that slows down rival assaults or forces movement to the sides.
What a night. ❤️🦁 pic.twitter.com/cnz2C2fQSn
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) July 8, 2021
Rice’s strongest and the most eye-catching action is after Rice’s recapture possession and when he transforms defence into offence. A defensive asset. Rice could march into any eleven in the world. While Rice rarely succumbs under the pressure he ensures that the team revolves around him while the opposition dance to his magical tunes throughout the game.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER – KALVIN PHILLIPS
While ‘It’s Coming Home’ trembled around Wembley before England’s first game against Croatia, a question loomed large on the home teams’ starting line-up. Leeds United’s talismanic midfielder Kalvin Phillips had forced his way into Southgate’s Euro 2020 roadmap. A product of Marco Bielsa’s murder-ball at Elland Road, Phillips replicated a tireless machine in his maiden Euro appearance. Creating the Three Lions’ first goal of this summer, Kalvin-Phillips returned a conqueror after 90 minutes of football at Wembley.
Kalvin Phillips covered 83km over the course of #EURO2020. More than anyone except Jorginho. He's had a superb tournament, but I think finding the energy and compassion to run to console Bukayo Saka here was his best contribution of allhttps://t.co/3mVgDBzBLi Vid from @Likeith8
— Oliver Kay (@OliverKay) July 12, 2021
A monstrous defensive-midfielder, Phillips’ stocks rocketed sky-high after a world-class European campaign. Filling in the shoes of Jordan Henderson, Phillips shifted the excessive baggage off Declan Rice’s shoulders. An 87% passing correctness and 32 ball recoveries cushioned England’s attacking display while his presence ploughed the backline out of pressure.
RIGHT-WING – RAHEEM STERLING
A questionable decision by Gareth Southgate, his Sterling move didn’t reap results until the Manchester City winger exploited Croatia’s defence to thunder England’s winning goal at Wembley. Destroying Die Mannschaft’s backline, Sterling wriggled past defenders in an electrifying manner. Destroying the Danish dream, Sterling turned up a notch in the semi-finals during extra-time winning the Three Lions’ penalty which Harry Kane converted without a doubt.
The support and energy from all the fans have been incredible both at Wembley and everyone watching at home. Bring on Sunday under the arches ❤️🏴 pic.twitter.com/KqhXHflaNa
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) July 8, 2021
With 3 scintillating strikes and a wonderful assist, Sterling could be pivotal for the Three Lions’ success at the 2022 World Cup. Starting above Sancho and Rashford, an out-of-form Sterling strutted his stuff in Euros and he could be the protagonist for England in Qatar. Parading into Southgate’s eleven, Sterling will surely be a starter for England in the 2022 World Cup.
STRIKER – HARRY KANE
A ruthless striking possession, Tottenham Hotspurs’ Harry Kane didn’t have a flying start to Euro 2020. Failing to capitalise on clear opportunities, losing possession in the final third, and poor finishing objectified Kane’s display in the group stages. But a goal against Germany in the knockout stages turned the tables for Spurs’ prized talent. What followed next was Kane’s moment from ‘Zero to Hero’ within the blink of an eye.
Leading the forward battery, the English captain gave nightmares to the rival defenders. Finishing the campaign with 4 goals, Kane was the Three Lions’ leading goalscorer guiding them into the finals. Although his quench for silverware continues, the 2022 World Cup could be the perfect opportunity for the towering forward to conquer the world. The captain could be seen bossing England’s World Cup line-up in Qatar once again.
LEFT-WING – PHIL FODEN
While conquering the English throne is still a far-fetched dream for many youngsters, Foden has accomplished the objective thrice in his youthful career. Mirroring Gazza’s hair before the kick-off against Croatia, Foden looked to replicate the veterans’ jubilation for the Three Lions. Although the youngster was benched after a handful of appearances, Foden’s time is yet to come. The Euro 2020 could be treated as the preparations for Foden and England with Southgate looking for a decent line-up before the Qatar challenge arrives.
Although the Manchester City forward fell out of Southgate’s eleven, he has the knack of darting into the opposition’s half constantly troubling defenders. The ability to shoot from any distance with his dominant left foot makes him a dominant candidate for England’s World Cup line-up. While Rashford and Sancho are still sitting in the wings, a dazzling Premier League season could put him above the United duo.
Trent-Alexander Arnold, Harry Maguire, John Stones, and Luke Shaw;
Grealish, Rice, and Kalvin-Phillips;
Sterling, Kane, and Foden